Growing into Christ (3)
Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.” Jesus answered him, “Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.” John 13.37, 38
Aelred of Rievaulx (1109-1167)
“Christ himself has set up a sure goal for friendship by saying, ‘Greater love has no man than this, than that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ Behold, how far love must be extended among friends – to the point that they are willing to die for one another!”
At dinner with a couple of pastor friends some time ago, the topic of persecution came up, at which time one of the pastors opined that he was not quite certain whether he would be willing to lay down his life for the Lord Jesus. He said he hadn’t thought about it, but he hoped he would – he just didn’t know. I was disturbed by this report. It seems to me this is a question we should have resolved, if only in our minds, shortly after coming to faith in Christ. If we are not willing to lay down our lives for Jesus, we certainly will not lay down our lives for a mere mortal. Love for Christ, to the point of being willing to die for Him, is foundational to true friendship. If we will betray the Lord, Who died for us – by reticence or silence or catering to this or that group or individual – what will keep us from betraying those who consider us their true friends? But if, like Jesus, we are willing to die for the faith, then we will give our lives as well to those God has called us to shepherd in His flock (Jn. 10.11). Such self-denial is the mark of true discipleship (Jn. 13.1-35).
Have you settled the question of whether you would be willing to die for Jesus? Talk with a soul friend about this question.
T. M. Moore
Pastoral Hope Initiative
The calling to make disciples
As pastors and church leaders, making disciples is our primary calling. But we need to make sure we’re growing as disciples, and that our tools for disciple-making are in top condition. Our book, Fan into Flame, provides an overview of the work of disciple-making, together with helpful assessments to discover areas where you most need to grow. Order your copy by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.All quotations from Aelred of Rievaulx, Spiritual Friendship, tr. By Mark F. Williams (Scranton: The University of Scranton Press, 1994, 2002).